Have you ever thought that meditation doesn’t suit you? Meditation is not something reserved for people related to the spiritual world, it is available to anyone! In fact, it is a practice widely recognized by professionals from various fields, whether it’s essay writers, accountants, or librarians, who recommend it to control emotions, manage stress and improve our health in general.
Surely, you’ve heard of meditation, but do you know what it means and its benefits? Meditation is a technique that helps calm the mind, relax the body and improve our psychological balance and well-being. Interesting, isn’t it? We’ll tell you more!
What Is Meditation And What Is It For?
There are many ways to meditate, but they all have the following elements in common:
- A quiet place, with few distractions.
- An upright and comfortable posture, in which we can be sitting, lying down or even walking.
- A focus of attention that can be a word, a phrase or a sensation, such as breathing.
- An open attitude, letting distractions come and go naturally, without judgment.
Although meditating is an ancient practice, recent research shows the many benefits it brings. One such study, published in 2014, suggests that meditation can positively affect anxiety, depression and pain. And not only that. Regular practice influences the sympathetic nervous system and can help improve heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure in times of stress. Meditating is good for a lot of things!
How Can Mediation Help Your Fitness?
Those of us who take sports seriously know this all too well: it’s often mental and emotional issues, not physical ones, that get in the way of our progress. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Lack of concentration, too high-stress levels or not having overcome past mistakes can sabotage our performance.
This is when meditation can be an excellent ally. Meditation can be effective in improving concentration and mental attitude in athletes3, as it promotes mindfulness and self-acceptance and prevents us from judging ourselves too strictly or simply wrongly.
Who doesn’t find it hard to overcome a day of poor performance or a defeat in the middle of a competition? Meditation prepares us to face and accept the challenges that may arise in the day-to-day life of any athlete and is useful to clear our mind, allowing us to focus on our body and what really matters.
In addition, meditation can influence sleep quality and even help us deal with pain, as well as improve our gut health, regulate blood pressure and promote overall wellness.1 Need more reasons to try it?
5 Types Of Meditation You Can Try
There are meditations for everyone, even if you find it hard to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Try the meditation techniques below and choose the one that best suits you. Here we go!
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a mindfulness practice that, through certain breathing techniques, allows us to live in the present moment, thus improving our ability to concentrate and strengthening our mental health.
In fact, any type of meditative practice is based on this state of mindfulness, since to meditate we must always direct our attention to the present moment: meditation is based on the mind-body connection and focuses on the now, not the past or the future. Thus, it is not about emptying the mind of thoughts or emotions, but to observe your thought patterns and what happens in your body in the present moment and recognize all kinds of sensations, whether positive, negative or neutral.
Practicing mindfulness meditation is a valuable tool to improve our concentration, learn to manage situations that overcome us, take care of our mental health and, as a result, also our physical health.
2. Meditation With Visualization
Are you unable to meditate because you are easily distracted? Do you find it difficult to sit and simply watch your thoughts go by? Visualization meditation is an active form of meditation (ideal if mindfulness does not work for you) and is very effective for relaxing in times of restlessness or anxiety.
The basis of this technique is to connect certain images with specific sensations. For example, when you feel that stress overwhelms you, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and evoke images that make you feel good (a landscape, an object, a color …) will allow you to relax and bring out pleasant sensations and positive moods.
Let’s suppose there is a color that transmits peace: visualizing it flooding your body will generate an immediate feeling of well-being in your organism. In the same way, imagining how the warm sand is covering you little by little (feet, legs, trunk, hands, arms…) can be useful to unload the tensions of the whole body. Anything goes! It is a matter of using your imagination and visualizing images that you find pleasant.
3. Focused Meditation
Focused meditation focuses deeply on anything in order to stay in the present moment and slow down the internal chatter. Again, this type of meditation differs from traditional meditation, in which we do not focus our attention on anything in particular and manage to quiet our mind by letting thoughts pass without judging them. Therefore, meditation is recommended for those who have difficulty practicing the classical way of meditating, and if you are taking your first steps on the path of meditative practice.
Preparing for a focused meditation session is very easy. Just sit or lie down in a quiet place and try to concentrate on something, whether it is a sensory stimulus, a visual element, a tactile sensation or even your own breathing. This will help you live in the now and park your habitual thoughts for a while.
4. Meditation With Mantras
Surely, you’ve heard of mantras, right? Are you familiar with the famous “om” of the yogis?
Well, it is one of the best-known mantras and is considered the sound of the universe. The world of meditation is full of symbolism, so your mantra can be any word or phrase you want. Choose it because of its significance or because you enjoy the way it sounds. It is then a matter of repeating it in a loop during the practice.
The use of these mantras promotes greater awareness and facilitates concentration, which is why so many people find them useful when meditating. What are you waiting for to choose yours?
5. Meditation In Movement
Combining two activities as different as running and meditating may seem impossible, but it is not at all. In fact, meditating while running can improve your physical performance, since the goal is precisely to maintain concentration during practice.
To integrate meditation into your running sessions, we recommend that you focus on the movement of your abdomen as you breathe, feel the air going in and out of your nose as you inhale and exhale, or even focus on your surroundings, without losing sight of the sensations you experience during practice. Another idea is to concentrate on how your body feels as you run or imagine how your bones and muscles work to move you forward.
How Can You Incorporate Meditation Into Your Training Routine?
Like any habit we want to adopt, including meditation in our daily routine means practicing regularly until it becomes second nature to us. A word of advice: if you want the practice to have continuity and gain consistency, don’t set the bar too high when you start. Set aside a few weekly days to meditate and set easily achievable goals. It is likely that, at first, you may even find it difficult to meditate a few minutes a day. This is normal. Be patient and gradually increase the time of each practice.
Choosing a time of day to meditate is also a good strategy. Doing it early in the morning is usually useful to increase our ability to concentrate throughout the day, but it all depends on the routine that we each have. The most important thing is not to force and that our schedule fits well in our daily life. On the other hand, it is convenient to be attentive to the signals that the body gives us: it will tell us when is the best time to meditate. Perhaps you feel tired or tense and your body asks you to disconnect at that precise moment. Listen to it and give it what it asks for.
Integrating meditation into our daily lives is worth it with so many benefits. In addition, you will see how, with time and practice, meditation will bring extra concentration to your sports routine. There are a multitude of ways to meditate, choose yours and start now!